Aster – Tormenta Del Desierto 12″ – Mathematics

Another new find by Mathematics A&R Jamal Moss, and there doesn’t seem to be much information floating around about her, him, them yet.  But while the artist(s) behind the music are mysterious here, the music has incontrovertible roots in Chicago house and early Detroit techno.  The EP has a certain Mediterranean flair to its classicism, IFM’s cohering seamlessly with the vibe of the whole, but taking it even more gritty and retro.  In one of the detours, there’s a twisting arpeggio that reminds me of Bodo Elsel’s 2000 “Sines” record on Playhouse, another section decends into cackling laughter under peals of squealing synths.

Overall, the record comes off as more cosmic than gothic, though.  With two very analog ambient interludes and an original house track, it covers a lot of ground and showcases a promising new act.

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D’Marc Cantu – How Are We Doing 10″ – M>O>S

D’Marc Cantu, probably best known for his work with Tadd Mullinix as 2 AM/FM and with Tadd & Melvin Oliphant as X2 , delivers the goods with this solo release.

The strongest track here is the contemplative B side, “A Second Earth.”  Taking notes from B12 and Stefan Robbers, the track balances the thick, squared-off techno drums with a spacious, reverberant quality to the layered melodies.

The ominous title track is chunky and modular, the walloping bassline playing against a nearly incoherent vocal and a serrated rolling hi-hat.  Still, there’s an underlying hint of melancholy that gives this otherwise heavy track a pensive aura.

Both sides feel far too short, but they get straight to the point: they’re flexible tracks that would work well alongside dub techno or stripped-down jackin’ house.

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Matthew Kyle’s edits for Original Cuts aren’t just edits.

On this EP, titled the Just An Edit EP, NYC’s Matthew Kyle does much more than just edit down some disco jams for Original Cuts. Owner of the In The Woods label and relative newcomer to the production game, Kyle proves his worth as he lifts samples and creates new tracks around them. The best example on this EP is when he takes The Temptations’ “Shakey Ground” and pieces together a nice work out around some choice verse samples while never delivering the chorus for his own “This Hurt All Over”. Kyle loves his slow-house, nu-soul and downbeat disco. That passion is very evident here as two of the tracks are at a downbeat tempo but still will get a dancefloor groovin’ and on the flip the long player “Baby Come Back” is great lounge material.

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-Scotty Brandon

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Blawan – What You Do With What You Have 12″ – R&S

The strongest and most techno-leaning offering from Blawan lands with a double-mullet: party in the front and the back.  On the black side, the title track will catch the most ears, support, and controversy for the recognizable (though thoroughly mutated and mutilated) KDJ vocal.  Still, this is the antithesis of the Oliver $ crib – the track propels quite heavily under its own steam: warped pseudo-acid squelches, a stomping mess of kick and bass, and the vocals chopped to the point where it sounds like there might be two distinct speakers, whipping one another into a mutual frenzy.

The silver side is a moaning, lumbering, walloping four-to-the-floor track as well.  The overall package marks Blawan as a threat for the techno, lo-fi  house set as well as his peers in British Bass music.

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New disco-ized grooves from Katzuma on Kinjo Music

Italian Andrea Visani really works it out for this the first vinyl release on Dave Allison’s Kinjo Music label. The limited edition Life In The City EP kicks off with “Musicismadeforlove” which is an uplifting sample based jaunt featuring a dubby vocal sample and some choice synth solos. Then Tony T steps in to grind things out with the more minimal burner “Stooned (Tonyt Remix)”. The EP then closes out on a high note with the title track. This one builds off some really nice piano work and just keeps driving home with a killer bassline and a funky guitar lick at the wheel. The keyboard solo and breakdowns just add to the joy filled romp that is “Life In The City”. This is one not to be missed for fans of the deepest of house or the grooviest of disco!

Visit or call Gramaphone Records today to hear this release!
2843 N. Clark St.
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– Scotty Brandon

Volcov edits for the boogie lover in you!

Volcov edits for SJNRLThis one is simply a really nice collection of five edits by Volcov as part of the The Slam Jam Neroli series of edits. The tracks Volcov takes on here are quite varied combining Disco sounds with jazzfunk, fusion & gospel. Definitely one for the edit collection with many stone cold jams on one slab of wax!

 

 

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-Scotty Brandon

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Azuni takes a ride on the Soulship

Azuni "Soulship EP" on QuintessentialsThe Zurich duo of Gianni Siravo & Sven Lacoste have been steadily making some really nice house goodies as Azuni for a few years now. Since the release of their City Look LP on Sthlmaudio Recordings they’ve continued to produce proper house music on the deep side and their latest one, Soulship EP, on Quintessentials is no different.

Kicking off with “Do It To Me” they start things off with a nice Kerri Chandler-esque floor mover. Next they take things a bit deeper with the hip housey “Feel it” which features the vocals of up-and-coming Chicago based MC Bolo, who’s easy going flow both inspires as well as pays tribute to many key players in the house and hip-hop scenes.

On the flip, Rob Mello morphs “Do It To Me” into an uplifting nod to old school house stylings with an excellent remix featuring some lushes chord stabs and nice drum sampling/programming. Lastly, the EP closes out with “How Wonderful (You Are)”. In this one the duo keeps the old school feeling flowing with a nice vocal sample over driving distorted 909 drum sounds, rolling bassline and organs.

This is a really choice record, another one for Azuni who are quickly making a name for themselves as doing proper house and doing it quite well. Highly recommended to those who like their house with soul and depth.

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-Scotty Brandon

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Urban Tribe – My First Mistake 12″ – Vibes / Rush Hour

Urban Tribe is a collaboration between Anthony “Shake” Shakir, Carl “C2″ Craig, and Sherard “DJ Stingray” Ingram.  For the uninitiated: this is an all-stars powerhouse team of Detroit heavyweights, with over 40 years of productions between them.  Carl Craig runs Planet E.  Sherard Ingram is connected with the various Drexciya projects.  Shake runs Frictional.

The A side here is a funky Detroit beatdown house number, the title comes from a cut of dialogue that pops up here and there during the breaks.  It’s loaded with samples and atonality, it’s in line with the vibe the of the Three Chairs and Moodymann.  On the B side, Rick “The Godson” Wilhite breaks a whole production down, distorts and crushes it almost beyond recognizability, and then keys it back in with his own erratic programming style.  It’s a strange ride.

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Robert Owens – One Tear 12″ – Tevo Howard Recordings

Probably an odd and improper comparison for me to make here, but I’ll explain as I go on: this record on first blush sounds to me like Tin Man.  Or at least it hits on the sound that Tin Man seems to be striving for in many of his productions.

Robert Owens released one of his first big songs, “Bring Down The Walls,” in 1986, whereas Johannes “Tin Man” Auvinen  was born only 8 years earlier, in 1978.  So then, the sound has come full circle?

Suffice to say, Robert Owens’ work here has a certain quality that is simultaneously timeless and utterly contemporary.  In collaboration with the inimitable Tevo Howard, they capture the moody melancholy and melodic acid sound that is distinctively Chicago.  The sound should be well-familiar by now with the impact that it’s made around the world, here it’s orchestrated by one of the originals, and one of electronic music’s rising stars.

This is the second release on Tevo Howard’s new eponymous label, following up his standout label-launch EP, The Drum Machine Man.

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Pittsburgh Track Authority – Archipelago 12″ – Further

First off, Further gets top marks for their typically dazzling presentation: hand-screened full-colour jackets and co-ordinated translucent vinyl; minimalist, distinctive, functional.

After an eclectic EP for Uzuri, the Pittsburgh Track Authority trio is musically somewhat more restrained on this, their second outing.  The tracks are keyboard-centric instrumental house, they’re floor-friendly, warm, groovy and alive.  With two tweaked versions of Archipelago 6, there’s some variation depending on the listener’s circumstance.  Also included is the dubby Archipelago 3, recommended if you are a fan of Daniel Meteo’s catalog or of Pole‘s later work.  Further’s works are typically fairly scarce, so if this is your bag, you will want to give it a listen sooner rather than later.

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Legowelt – Poverties Paradise 12″ – Echovolt

The always creative Danny Wolfers is hard to pin down on this release.

Recording as Legowelt (which bears mentioning, as this fellow uses at least a dozen other monikers) he opens the record with a muddy Chicago-sounding house joint, with mumbled vocals, bits of diva crooning, and rippling, swirling melodies reminiscent of Larry Heard.  The next track is a little more electroid, with a heavy noodly bass riff flanked by spacious chords.  The flip side is the closest to his Bunker days, it gets funky and grimed up with heavily delayed vocals, squishy synths, and incessant 16th note hats driving the whole insatiable groove.  Closing out is a beautifully sinister melody from mars which will appeal to fans of the Aphex Twin and D’Arcangelo.  Coming off of his brilliant The Teac Life album, this is a welcome adventure from the sometimes unpredictable Legowelt.

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Noleian Reusse – The Black Tekno 12″ – Love What You Feel

Ridiculously underrated Chicago DJ and 1/2 of Africans With Mainframes, Noleian Reusse appears here on the Pittsburgh-based Love What You Feel imprint for his second solo 12″.  This is a fresh start, of sorts, given his five year absence from recording under this name.  And it feels like a new leaf, both for him and for the label: Love What You Feel’s first release by Disco Nihilist (as well as his follow-up on Running Back) is roots analog house music, stripped to its fundamentals.  While Noleian’s sought-after Images EP for Mathematics added some syncopation to the mix, it didn’t stray far from that well-worn prototype.

This release is a different story: while it retains the drum-box aesthetics and raw tracky feel, there are occasisional mid-track change-ups as well as an array of tempos, layers, and unrestrained heavy rhythm work that puts it more in line with recent Nonplus and Autonomic releases.  It’s a flexible, engaging, unorthodox record that has earned Noleian some new listeners abroad, and renewed attention here in Chicago.

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Hakim Murphy – Moonbeam Express 12″ – Synapsis

Maybe you can judge a book by its cover, or a record by its label.  The latest Synapsis joint gives itself away with its vivid rosy artwork, a departure for Hakim Murphy and the imprint.  Where his coarse monochromatic stamp art and mechanical inspiration has been a signature for his excellent Machining Dreams imprint, Synapsis has frequently offered a more sleek approach to both their sound and graphics.

This new entry into his growing catalog continues this alignment between the respective labels and their presentation, aligning here towards the soft curves and lush hues emerging in his new sounds.  Throughout, he retains his sparse, mechanistic drum-machine flow, but augments it heavily with rolling blue chords and off-tone saxophone riff on Flirt; on the title track a plodding and slightly off-beat bassline, playing against gentle waves of sunset pads.  John Tejada‘s early work with Arian Leviste and formative Delsin are decent reference points, but Hakim is charting his own course with his steady flow of releases.

This 12″ takes further the direction Hakim has hinted at on his recent tracks for Stolen Kisses and Mindshift, away from the foreboding acid with which he’s more often associated, and towards a more prismatic pallete.  It is effortlessly tuneful and reveals Synapsis’ broadening scope.

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Sun Ra – The Mike Huckaby Reel-To-Reel Edits Volume 2 12″ – Art Yard

The venerable Mike Huckaby has assembled three relatively subtle re-edits of Sun Ra‘s cosmic jazz creations.  Once you get past the label sticker’s confused track-order, it’s a nice package, standing out for its creative use of the full art cardboard jacket as a house for the record and the spiral designed outer clear poly jacket overtop.

Inside, his edits are gentle reinterpretations of the source material, from the sound of it he draws only from the original recordings.  He steers the compositions towards their more linear sections and away from the freakout tangents, but is remarkably faithful to the originals while offering his own editorial interpretation.  As is characteristic for Mike Huckaby’s work, it tends to drift into comfortable loops rather than organic builds.

It certainly doesn’t make for a standard dance music record for followers of house, techno, nor for followers of jazz and improvisational music, but it’s all the more worth a listen for this uniqueness.

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Four Tet – Locked 12″ – Text

Kieran Hebden has revived and revved his Four Tet alter-ego for this clubby 12″, this “clubby” quality of it is noteworthy as he hasn’t always veered uptempo when using an alias.

The rumbling, stumbling drum breaks on Locked should be well-familiar territory to those aquainted with his early album work, the analogish keyboard twiddles and woozy guitar backing are reminiscent of some San Francisco “Bay Area Funk” but with the modal deviance of Rephlex Records.

For the B side, Four Tet switches into a mode more fitting for his FabricLive session.  And surely enough, this is one of the exclusives for that official recording, track 22 to be exact.  The beat is full-on tech-house: a heavy and syncopated bassline with the occasional digital fidget accenting the beats, breaking down to a melancholy chord & chime wash.  Recommended if you like James Holden or Nathan Fake.

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Yuri Shulgin – Flow 12″ – Ethereal Sound

Here is a release that easily stands out from the recent crush of deep house entries.  Closing out the EP is the title track, wherein the main mutating keyboard flourish dances with with a cut up hiphop vocal, and then gradually gives way to a low-end tweaked bass counterpoint, before returning to resume its wandering sketches.  Likewise, “What A Track” is a grower with a heavy melodic duet between a spacey arpeggio and a jamming vibraphone improvisation.  The long-side of the record is devoted to the sexiest joint of the three, with the sultry, free-flowing melody delivered by a madly meandering trumpet over a two-chord backing, the refrain supplied by the piano.

Each of the songs centers around a propulsive wandering melodic element; aptly named, the “Flow” takes center stage throughout this 12″, and while Yuri wears his jazz influences on his sleeve, each track is compellingly well-balanced, staying fresh and unpredictable without deviating far from the underlying groove.  While it will appeal to fans of Rick Wade‘s more reflective side, probably his closest points of comparison might be the work of Kez YM, Four Tet or Bonobo, all with their ability to blur not only genre lines, but also the lines of musical structure and organic versus synthetic instrumentation.

Yuri nails it on this, his debut release under the name; here’s hoping there are many more to come.

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Two Techno & Tech House workouts on The Gym from James Braun & Scott

Scott / James Braun "Suicide Bjorn" / "606'n'Rock'n'Roll"These two tracks, on aptly named label The Gym, are definitely workouts wherein both tracks take a theme and slowly churn out changes in structure and melody.

The first track, “606 ‘n’ Rock ‘n’ Roll” from Holland’s James Braun, is as advertised. It combines some pumping 606 drums, distorted hi-hat structures and a 606 rimshot with syncopated staccato bass and guitar sounds to roll out a dark, minimal burner that is more restrained techno than house.

The second track “Suicide Bjorn” comes from German duo Daniel Brandt and Jan Brauer, better known collectively as Scott. The duo has a strong affinity for jazz and the live improvisational influence on their music can be heard in this track. Definitely having the feel of a track orchestrated on the fly, different elements enter and exit including some nice piano bits and some analogue synth sounds. The backbone of the track is a quick, heavily compressed kick and bassline sprinkled with percussion.

This one is definitely recommended to fans of IDM and raw minimal tech-house, much in the vein of labels like Trapez, Traum or Palette Recordings.

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-Scotty Brandon

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African rhythms from Celia Cruz & Femi Kuti remixed by Jose Marquez

Jose Marquez remixes Femi Kuti and Celia Cruz on Basic FingersThis two-track EP on Basic Fingers features two excellent remixes from L.A.’s Jose Marquez. Both remixes take the african rhythms of the originals and work them out into some definite floor stompers.

On the A side Jose takes on Celia Cruz’s “Elegua” in which, although Cuban, Celia digs deep into her roots and sings to the Orisha of Elegua in the native Yoruba language of West Africa. From the original Marquez lifts the vocal as well as percussion elements to create a grinder of a track that slowly crescendos with just the right amount of tension. Adding just the right amount of synth and drum machine thump the track maintains its deep, rhythmic drive while never sacrificing the raw feeling of the original.

On the B side Marquez takes on Femi Kuti’s “You Better Ask Yourself”. Femi Kuti’s lineage as the son of Fela, the godfather of Afrobeat, has never gotten in the way of his carrying on the torch of the music and this song is a great example. With the remix, Marquez really allows the original elements to shine, even though it has been sped up a bit. He edits the structure together beautifully while adding a nice sub-bass line and driving percussion underneath the lovely horn arrangements and vocals.

Being resident DJ and founder of Tumbe’, a monthly event in downtown LA dedicated to showcasing various genres of World Music, its no surprise that Marquez has taken on remixing these two tracks with such passion for the originals. Its also obvious that he knows what works for a dancefloor. This EP is highly recommended to anyone who just loves good music or DJs looking to add some diversity to their sets.

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-Scotty Brandon

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Mark Seven turns up the 80’s knob as Parkway Rhythm for “Working Girl”

Parkway Rhythm "Working Girl"Its been amazing the progression of Mark Seven since his first EP in 1998 on Primevil (What Evil Lurks E.P.) to his release on Endless Flight from last year. From the brutal hard techno sounds of the mid to late 90’s he’s shifted toward more groovy, and uplifting melodic material leaving many of his peers (Adam Beyer, Cari Lekebusch, Joel Mull, etc.) in his dust. Under his new monicker and label Parkway Rhythm, Mark has taken things a step further reflecting the freedom and energy of the 80’s dancefloor, albeit rewired with super 21st century sonics.

Featuring shimmering synths, booming bass lines, soaring vocal samples and crisp rhythm programming, “Working Girl” is a dance floor destroyer. The key to the production here is that it really never goes too far. It never comes off as trite or cheesy, but rather full of the soul and groove that made those 80’s 12″ dance records so hot.

On the flip there’s ‘Mark’s Deepa Dub’ where the bass line and vocal get chopped up while the percussion programming is taken up a notch to create a deep groove that will keep the floor moving well into wee hours of the night. For the ‘Club Dub’  Mark strips the track back to its raw elements and works out a nice minimized edit.

This is definitely one of those records that the IndieDance crowd and House music crowd can agree on. Although, the IndieDance crowd will probably sleep on it because no one related to, or friends with A-Trak produced it. All joking aside, this is an excellent single.

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– Scotty Brandon

Balance Alliance’s v/a EP “Sessions Unplugged”

Various Artists "Sessions Unplugged"For this one, released on Chicago’s Balance Alliance, the name says it all. This is definitely a compilation of tracks that feel like sessions. Most of the cuts feature improvisational riffing on organs, keyboards, flutes or vocals giving each one the feeling of a live jam session.

The first cut on the record is a jazzy, electro-funk tune called “Rue Saint Bernard (Original Mix)” by Sir Duke and John Sill. Featuring a steady electro beat, much in the vein of the old 430 West records out of Detroit, the bouncing bassline drives the track forward creating a solid foundation for the freestyle synth, organ and piano riffs that dance above it.

Next Common People kick things into a laid back house groove with “Queen Of Elephants.” Featuring some nice vocal work including some throw back, rap style interludes, this track has a familiar sound that will appeal to a broad range of listeners and will definitely keep the heads nodding.

Over on the other side Mark & Paul take things a bit deeper with a driving tune based on some nice vibe chords and jazz based percussion sounds. “Nuevo Ritmo” features some nice piano solos and has a bit of that latin flavor with its shuffling beat, piano melody and key progression.

Last up the Urban Crew keep things on the deep side with the utterly soulful “Go (Into All The Word).” More song based than the rest, this track features some lovely vocals, live instrumentation and soaring flute solos. Somewhere between house music and afrobeat, this track definitely has something to offer DJs of many genres and styles.

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-Scotty Brandon

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2843 N. Clark St.
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